On Sunday June 11 5 of us explored lesser traveled routes on the eastern side of Mt. Monadnock in Jaffrey(NH), on a loop from the State Park HQ. We climbed Parker and Lost Farm Trails to Cliff Walk, near Thoreau’s Seat. We lunched on Bald Knob, while enjoying great views. The hordes of hikers on the summit resembled ants, and we unanimously decided not to join them.
Rather, we continued on the present and the abandoned (for which I have permission to use) Smith Connector to the lovely open Alpine Zone on Pumpelly Ridge. We thought of looking for the Pumpelly Cave, but when we went a littleway down the Spelman Trail to the start of the off trail route, none of us wanted to tackle the difficult scrub we would have to bushwhack through. We descended the steep Spelman Trail (which would be easier to ascend), and thence back to our cars.
We all enjoyed the day’s adventure, despite sun, heat, black flies and mosquitoes! We were so happy to be able to savor this beautiful mountain while avoiding the crowds!
On Thursday June 9 5 of us explored the new trail system in Brookside Park in Grantham(NH). The water level in the lovely brook was high so we really appreciated the new bridge! We did have tom pick our way around one major blowdown, and fight off the mosquitoes – but it was a great Easy morning walk!
On Sunday May 28 five of us enjoyed a loop climb on this conserved land in Bradford(VT). We explored an interesting and sporty rock cave, the Devil’s Den. We then climbed to the Lookout, open ledges beside the cabin, where we sat in the sun and enjoyed good views.
We had a nice walk at Moosalmoo National Recreation Area with a couple of newcomers and some members. Hey,newcomers, I don’t mean to single you out but you are new to us. Great to meet you.! Hope to see you again on other ventures. It was cloudy and almost rainy (rainy is a word I use to describe when there is moisture in the air but no actual rain,maybe sprinkles). We observed many early spring wild flowers and other vegetation. It was a learning experience for me and I was impressed with the knowledge of everyone about the plant life. We encountered a jaw bone of a deer that Inge Trebitz collected for further examination. As we walked the longest leg of the trail with trees bare of their leaves I really felt the experience of what a hollow is.
On Sunday 4 of us had a pleasant 4 mile walk in Moody Park in Claremont(NH). It was shorter than wee had planned, as some trails were closed due presumably to persistent muddy conditions. The weather was a bit damp, yet we still enjoyed good views of Mt. Ascutney. And after the hike the weather worsened to a downpour, so it was good we finished early! Peter Hope
I returned to the Great Brook Trail to lead a hike for the Green Mt. Club on Wednesday April 19. I have done this hike many times including during my traverse of the SRK Greenway in 2008 (Sunapee,Ragged,and Kearsarge mountains) but this was the first time I have walked this route in the spring when the winter runoff floods the brook creating these fabulous cascades. Normally I would walk up the ledge behind me with only a trickle of water flowing down. The trail takes you to the Devils Half Acre Pond. The pond is pretty. Lynne and I observed a pair of loons on the far side of the pond. They appeared to be feeding. A beaver dam has flooded the shoreline. It was a popular spot for a picnic back in the day.
It was a good time but only one member made the trek with me. I wish more of the regulars would make the ride out of the WRJ area. You are missing out on some great hikes. It is my goal as a leader to expand the realm of our clubs outings. This was the second of an annual event that features the trails of The New London Conservation Commission. I plan to schedule another event in this area in the fall.
On Tuesday April 18 seven of us walked at Hanover’s Pine Knoll Cemetery to a viewpoint above Mink Brook. After a little difficulty in finding the (unmarked trailhead) we then explored lovely South Esker, with its evergreen forest and Connecticut River views. Peter Hope
On Tuesday March 28 2 of us hiked with snowshoes on (gated) Pease Road in the Trescott Lands in Hanover(NH), from Trsecott Road to Dogford Road and back. We had to break trail, but that was not too arduous. The day was misty, but neither too wet nor too cold. Peter Hope
Little Mt. Washington
9 of us (including 5 newcomers) greatly enjoyed a hike on Class 6 roads in North Grantham(NH) on Monday January 16. As there was little snow cover, we used traction rather than snowshoes. The highlight was the lunch stop on Little Mt. Washington. We sat on bare rocks, and had great views. The weather cooperated also! We also stopped briefly at two lovely ponds, Chase and Leavitt. (And in 4 hours we only met 2 ATV’s and 2 snowmobiles). Peter Hope
Mt. Cardigan Hike
On Saturday January 14th seven O Section members hiked up Cardigan Mountain near Canaan NH. Seasonable temperatures in the teens-20’s and intermittent sunshine greeted us as we started up the west side access road to the summer parking lot and onto the West Ridge trail. Unfortunately as shown in the photos rain from two days before had turned portions of the snow packed trail earlier in the week into ice, necessitating several trail detours. As we approached tree line we were rewarded with a panoramic vista from Vermont’s Pico Peak to Mt. Kearsage in NH. Although due to the icy conditions we didn’t travel to the summit, it did provide an opportunity to try out some new hiking techniques on the trek down. For example, as shown in the photo Bob Hagen demonstrated his version of sledless mountain lugeing!! As we all safely returned to the cars it was natural to reflect on what a joy and gift it is to be able to enjoy our mountains in winter.
The 2017 New Year’s Day snowshoe hike to Happy Hill shelter on the AT was a new experience for the 5 of the 11 hikers who saw the ad on the list serves. Posting the hike on local list serves was something Kathy Astrauckas wanted to try, and the strategy was a success. Other leaders may want to copy this model. There was lunch at the shelter, and a return to the Cossigham Parking lot via the old AT. Surely a good way to start the new year! Bob Hagen & Kathy Astrauckas
Cornish Town Forest
On December 3 seven GMCers did a trek through conserved land at Balloch’s Crossing that connect to the Cornish Town Forest in New Hampshire. Our route included privately maintained wide trails that connected to old roads and a mountain bike trail that brought us to a great view of Ascutney across the river. It was a loop hike of about 5+ miles, and the weather was overcast and cool but we all had a great time! Annie Janeway
Seven of us climbed Mt. Peg(1080′) in Woodstock, VT, on an attractive loop route. Despite the gray skies, the views from the open summit were good. We had 2 Killington Section members and 3 non-GMCers in our group – perhaps we will gain some new members! Peter Hope
Roaring Brook Loop
Three of us enjoyed an Adirondack jaunt this past Sunday. We first walked to the base of Roaring Brook Falls, a 520 foot cascade. There was but a trickle of water coming off it, so I am surprised we did not see rock climbers for whom this is a favorite multi-pitch climb. We then climbed to the Giant’s Washbowl, an attractive mountain tarn, beside which we lunched (sitting on comfortable pine needles). we were amazed to see a kayaker on the Washbowl – the portage up to it cannot have been easy! We then continued up the Giant’s Nubble, where there was finally a partial view. The fog / clouds prevented the usual wonderful views of the Great Range. And finally wee looped down to the start, where we feasted on the usual chocolate. As usual in the Adirondacks, we encountered eroded trails, but conditions were much better than I had experienced on the northern LT the Sunday before.
LT over Haystack
On September 25 two of us hiked a northern section of the Long Trail, first climbing the attractive Frank Post Trail to Tillotson Camp, where we snacked while enjoying the view. We then went north on the Long Trail, over Tillotson Peak and Haystack Mt. to Hazen’s Notch. We lunched at the lovely pond between the two. The views from the outlooks om Haystack were excellent. I cannot say the same for the trail conditions on this section of the LT. There were two very steep descents on the north sides of the two mountains. Unfortunately these were extremely eroded in many places, which haled to the creation of multiple herd paths (and often necessary to avoid slippery and muddy steep slopes). As a result, he trip took much longer than expected (even at my fairly slow pace). I am not planning to revisit this part of the Long Trail!
Mount Tom, South Peak
On September 6 four of us braved the sporty Precipice Trail, in Marsh-Billings-Rockeller National Historic Park, Vermont’s only National Park.. We climbed from the Mansion up this fairly steep and somewhat rough route, with exposure that is protected by a cable, to the South Peak carriage road turn around, with its spectacular views.
St. Gaudens National Historic Site
As of our celebration of NPS-100, on August 31 thirteen of us enjoyed a combined GMC- Sierra Club outing to New Hampshire’s only National Park, in Cornish(NH). We explored the attractive trails (which do need some maintenance), admiring the wetlands, the old stone bridge and Blow Me Down Mill. And afterwards we had time to admire the great art, especially the new Standing Lincoln, the original of which is in Chicago.
Lower Slade Brook
On August 3 four of us enjoyed a 2 mile walk in this lovely conserved area,\ in Hanover(NH). For much of the way we followed Lower Slade Brook, attractive even at low water levels.
Trescott Lands / Oak Hill
On July 27 6 of hiked from Trescott Road in Hanover, past reservoirs and a viewpoint, on old roads and newer trails, up and then down to the Storrs Pond area. The only glitch was my starting down the wrong old woods road – but I soon caught the error as we were on the wrong side of the reservoir fence.
I return to East Pond,in the White Mountains,with Dick Andrews & Kathy Astrauckas for an end to end hike starting from the Kancamagus Hwy trailhead. The pond is a great destination from this approach. You do the heavy lifting to reach it. Then an easy mile or so down grade to finish. After a stormy night and sprinkles early the skies calm for us to get this trek in. The trail was as wet as I have ever seen it. This is my third time that I have hiked this route. It was almost uneventful but I have to admit I had some trouble on the one water crossing early on. I rushed and did not consider alternatives. I got wet but I was ok. This route is less traveled then the Tripoli road trailhead where it is a little more than a mile to reach the pond. We traveled about 3.7 miles to the destination. We had lunch while enjoying the view. There were teens on a,summer camp like,structured outing. It was a little breezy. Something about East Pond gives you a sense of tranquilly that is hard to explain. You have to go there to experience it for yourself! Last year I did this route,by myself,using my mountain and road bikes for the spot. It was a challenge. I made a video that I hope to show everyone some day. I wish there had been more participation on this great hike. My hope,as a leader,is to encourage attendance on events that go beyond the Upper Valley area. It is worth it!
On Wednesday July 13 five of us enjoyed a walk on this 5k private multi-use trail system, designed by John Morton. I will schedule more trips there in the future!
On Independence Day five of us explored this great section of the Long Trail, north of Johnson. We lunched at the Lookout, enjoying the view toward the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks. But the jewels of the trip were the extensive impressive overhanging ledges a little below the Lookout!
North Pack Monadnock
On June 26 six of us climbed North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield. Most of the route lies within the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge. We climbed Ted’s Trail and descended Carolyn’s Trail, on a very attractive loop. The company was great, and the views good! But it was hot! And the mosquitoes came out in force toward the end of the hike. But we all had a great time despite!
Welch & Dickey
June 4, 2016 – Welch and Dickey Loop Trail (Waterville Valley, NH)
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY – and good weather, so the parking lot was full of eager hikers. But since most people follow the loop trail in the same direction, even a large crowd peters out along the way.
A heavy downpour the night before had carved leaf-filled channels along the woodsy section of the trail. By morning, a volunteer group from Waterville Valley was already working to repair the damage. Once we reached the first flat plateau and great view towards the Sandwich Range, the pebbly granite was dry and not slippery. We moved up the steep ledges slowly, pausing often to enjoy the unfolding scenery below. A bit of rock-scrambling, and we got to Welch just at lunchtime. The mountain top feels like a small amphitheater, with plenty of room for a large group of people to spread out their packs.
To get to Dickey, you have to clamber downhill to a huge stone cairn, then up again through woods and rocks. Yet the summit and its view is not quite as impressive as the first one. The reward comes further down on the trail, when the yellow markers follow the back of a gigantic stone elephant – a striking landmark to be seen from way down on the highway. The last part of the hiking loop, winding down through the forest, feels like bringing you back to earth.
The Pinnacle, on Windmill Ridge
On Tuesday 31 May I and six others hiked to what is called “The Pinnacle” which is part of the Windmill Ridge Nature Reserve in West Westminster,Vermont. Early on we discussed what exactly is the meaning of the word pinnacle. According to the Oxford American Dictionary it is a “high pointed piece of rock”. I always thought there was more to the definition. The day was perfect. Sunny with temps in the 70’s. A nice breeze kept things cool and the bugs away! There was a few as we passed a vernal pool near the summit of our hike. There also was a savannah area near the top. We reached our destination where there is a nice cabin converted into a shelter. The views were great. Mt. Snow being the most prominent.
Work Trip :
On Sunday May 29 Dave Hardy Led a work trip on the AT, in the Norwich area to catalog unauthorized uses of AT corridor, to visit Happy Hill Shelter and Happy Hill Privy, to follow some boundary,to visit a vernal pool, and maybe to find that remote cemetery near the trail.
Ashuelot Headwaters Forest :
On Sunday May 29 7 of us led by Peter Hope hiked in the Ashuelot Headwaters Forest in Lempster. We visited lovely Long and Sand Ponds, hiking on pleasant Easy trails. 4 of us continued the hike by climbing Silver Mt.(2160′), which took us about 20 minutes up,. less down. Views were limited due to low clouds, but it was not too hot. We lunched on nice rocks somewhat sheltered from the wind.
Two late spring trip reports:
Sun., May 22:
Loop hike on Stone House Farm Trails in Lyme, NH, with 10 participants.
This place has it all: Plenty of parking right in the middle of town, with the trail head ten yards away; open fields and woods; a view point for lunch after a moderate ascent; many additional trails with options for longer hikes and for getting lost, which seems to happen quite often.
What is not to like about it? The lower sections of the meandering trails are very muddy at this time of year, and the extensive board walks were broken down in many places. Stone House Farm’s network of trails is maintained on private property, and probably used more in winter by x-c skiers than later on by hikers. It must be difficult to round up volunteers to keep this local treasure in good shape.
Tues., May 24:
Loop hike in the Army Corps of Engineer’s Union Village Dam area.
This time no mud! There were seven of us, and we “single-footed” mainly on well-maintained mountain bike trails, dipping down to cross little brooks and climbing up over gentle ridges. We stopped for lunch at a viewpoint overlooking the confluence of the East and West Ompompanoosuc River. We marveled at a huge cellar hole, wondering if it had been part of a tavern rather than just a farmhouse. And at the end of a totally overgrown old road we compared the remnants of a bridge abutment with a photo of the bridge provided by the Historical Society. Kathy Thompson, one of the participants and a birder, identified 33 bird species during our hike, though most of them recognized by their song. Kathy also showed us where to find Morel mushrooms.
All in all, we learned a lot!
Randolph Bike Ride
May 14 was a good day for this great ride. Mostly sunny with seasonal temperature.Three of us leave Randolph on Rt.12A North. The hill came early and we did great. Then to Baker Pond for a quick rest. The ladies go ahead for our next stop at a gas station before the return on Rt.12 South to complete the loop. I,of course,was expected to catch up. Not this time! I hit some metal trash thing and blow out my front tire. With the tire off the rim,I ride a mile or two to meet up with them at the gas station in South Northfield. Annie,using her phone,finds a nearby bike shop. They picked me up and with a new tire we continue on the final leg of our journey. One more stop at a backcountry store in Roxbury. Then we finish passing through a couple of sleepy small towns with picturesque countryside in between. About 35 Miles excluding the detour. Time just under 3 hours.
On May 3 6 of us walked the lovely Colette Trail, along Bicknell Brook in Enfield. We enjoyed the impressive waterfalls, as well as many areas of quick and still water and marsh. It was cool, so no bugs bothered us. And the rain held off!
2 New London Area Walks
On April 30 I led group of 3 on 2 walks in the Little Lake Sunapee area. We hiked the Kidder Brook Trail with many water features. We stopped to check out an old mill site then returned on the Morgan Pond Rd. Next up the Philbrick-Cricenti Bog. It was too early for flowers but the group enjoyed following the self guided tour using the handouts provided by myself. This is an unique area featuring arctic tundra plant life and dwarf bonsai-like trees. The weather was great,sunny but still cool enough to keep the bugs away! We enjoyed a nice lite lunch at Peter Christians Tavern in New London afterwards.
Athens Dome East – April 24, 2016
3 of us (one of whom has just joined the GMC) climbed up and over a ridge, descending to a lovely picnic spot beside a stream. We then climbed past Creature Rock, an interesting and very unusual erratic, a to a viewpoint, looped back to the picnic area, and finally up and over the ridge to our cars. Peter Hope
Balch Hill – March 22, 2016
5 of us enjoyed an Easy morning hike, climbing this small Hanover hill, with its god views across the Connecticut Valley. We then followed 2 loop trails, each time returning to the open field on the summit. Peter Hope
AN EXERCISE IN ADAPTABILITY – March 20, 2016
Plan A, according to schedule: Back-country skiing on Chittenden Brook Trail in Rochester, VT – Cancelled, because of lack of snow.
Plan B: Hike from Kancamagus Highway in Lincoln, NH up to Greeley Ponds and back – in a recent Valley News article highly recommended as a winter hike. Bright sunshine, all seven of us equipped with micro spikes or other kinds of creepers. The trail was icy, as expected. First brook just a hop; second brook a hop and a jump. Third brook, much wider – no ice bridge left; open water; slippery rocks.
We fanned out up and down the stream to look for a way to cross.
Bob made it, but not all in the group felt comfortable to follow.
What now? Split into two parties? With two cars in the parking lot it could be done. No, we should stay together. Look for a different hike. East Pond Trail? No, it has a brook crossing. Kathy, always prepared for emergencies, had a larger trail map and suggested a
Plan C: Hike to the ledges of Hedgehog Mt. on UNH Trail – no brook, but views. So we drove ten more miles on the Kanc,. and then started uphill on another icy trail. It was way past midday when we stopped for lunch. Shall we go on? It can’t be far from here! Thirty minutes on, the wisdom of our oldest participant won out: ”I am turning around!” Two people joined him, the other four kept plugging on. Not for very long though!
More ice, fewer ways to avoid it. “Is it worth it? The trail will still be there next year!” So in the end we were reunited just before getting back to the parking lot.
Hawk Hill in East Barnard – March 12, 2016
No ice, no micro spikes, wide gentle trails led to the top of this little mountain with a spectaclular view all around and down to Barnard and Pomfret. A little mud and a lot of bushwhacking on the way down ended a wonderful pre-spring hike. Inge Trebitz
Huntington Hill – March 13, 2016
We celebrated Daylight Savings Time on the conserved land off Goodfellow Road in Hanover. The area had been closed to outdoor activities for some time because of logging. But the winding trails are now clear and ready for exploring. The trip leader chose a circuitous route through hardwood forest, along open fields and down to Slade Brook, then following it uphill. Logging roads took us back to our starting point. We felt fortunate that this beautiful area close to home is open for hiking and skiing again.
Lake Constance and Eagle Cliff, Piermont(NH) – Feb. 28, 2016
Another gem of a pond and another trip not described in any guide book! Eight O-Section members followed our knowledgeable leader, Kevin Williamson, on iced-over unmarked trails to a lonesome, pretty pond within the White Mountain National Forest. We are so lucky to live in the Upper Valley and find all these treasures within an hour’s drive from home!
UVLT Bear Pond Hike – Feb. 27, 2016
The map description for the Bear Pond Natural Area in Canaan (NH) explains: This land is managed as a forever wild area. Trails are minimally maintained. More than 20 participants, mainly from Upper Valley Land Trust and the Mascoma Watershed Conservation Council, had a chance to verify the map description. After a long walk on an old logging road we reached charming little Horseshoe Pond, and from then on it was bushwhacking: We balanced along a beaver dam, pushed our way through the underbrush, tried to avoid iced-over rivulets, stepped from one hummock to the next – always following the leader’s excellent sense of direction (and GPS readings). Finally the “minimally maintained” Sweet Water Trail led us to a narrow footpath, which opened up to frozen wetlands and beautiful Bear Pond. No human structure in sight! We stepped onto the ice and then walked close to the shoreline to complete our hiking loop. Frozen animal tracks , pitcher plants winter-stiff like copper cups, the deep red carpet of wetland growth, the fruit hulks of a beach hazelnut bush – we had a sunny day and plenty of time to enjoy whatever we discovered along the way.
Trescott Lands – Feb. 15, 2016
On President’s day a goodly group explored the newly opened Trescott Lands in Hanover, near the town reservoirs. We passed historic sites and enjoyed some good views. except for the old town roads, The trail system definitely needs more work (which is planned).
New Year’s Eve – December 31, 2015
On New Year’s Eve we enjoy a meal, an outdoor activity, and good company. This past New Year’s we enjoyed a potluck supper in East Thetford, then enjoyed an outdoor excursion followed by a bonfire and good fellowship. We thank our hosts, Marcia Dunning & Bob Metzger.
December 6, 2015
9 of us enjoyed an easy morning walk on the lovely multi-use Nature Trails behind Alice Peck Day Hospital in Lebanon, NH. We snacked next to and attractive pool below a natural rock wall.
November 11, 2015
9 of us, one of whom has 4 legs and was always in the lead, explored the well built and maintained trails on Windmill Ridge, climbing from Athens (VT). The rain had stopped before we started up the trail. We were a very congenial group, all of whom loved the trip and the destination. The highlight of the day was the outstanding view from Paul’s Ledges. looking west toward Mt. Okemo and Stratton Mt. The split boulder was fun too! I plan more O-Section hikes on Windmill Ridge and Putney Mountain in 2016!
APD Naturec Trails – October 6, 2015
4 of us explored trails on the city-owned Starr Hill Preserve, as well as the lovely Nature Trails on the Alice Pack Day Hospital property. The latter would be great for skiing or snowshoeing, and they are away from the sound of the nearby freeway! We shall return! Peter Hope
Mt. Tom – August 19, 2015
8 of us climbed the back slopes of Mt. Tom in Woodstock, starting from King Farm. We went up the Poets’ Trail through fields and forest to the Outlook, continuing on National Park trails to Red Pine Overlook. We looped back by a more wooded route. This part of the mountain is really attractive though very seldom visited. We’ll be back, though! Peter Hope
On the Memorial Day holiday 5 of us enjoyed a climb of Shrewsbury Peak(3270′). We had to go via Rutland, as the CCC Road is closed at the Plymouth end due to a washout. We climbed the Black Swamp Trail, the descended the steep Shrewsbury Peak Trail. No ticks, but blackflies were in abundance! We also visited the remains of the CCC ski area, including the shelter (in good shape, in contrast to the one on the Black Swamp Trail, the well house, the remains of the Pavilion, and the Stone Hut, originally the ski base lodge, still looking very sound. We noted ski trails and glades, still kept clear. Peter Hope
November 30, 2014
Closing out November and Vermont Deer Rifle Hunting Season, 10 of us enjoyed a dirt road walk in Thetford and Norwich. An early snowstorm created some ice on the roads but also brightened up the cloudy day. Some walkers used YakTrax and some used trekking poles, but most bare-booted it, undeterred. The 6.5 mile loop, with no shortage of steep hills, took us past a horse farm and ice floes on the river, through a covered bridge to the height of a flood-control dam, and back to the starting point for tea and cookies. One participant, who came all the way from Orwell, VT, proclaimed “This is really a full-service hike!” Kathy Astrauckas
I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail a couple of years ago. A life-altering trip. Here is the full story.